Monday, December 12, 2005

a long, hot Australian summer

Is Australia going to experience something that France went through a few weeks ago with a series of race riots that ran for several nights? These riots in Australia were apparently prompted by reports that Lebanese youths had assaulted two lifeguards.

According to one person:

"Let's be clear, the gathering was a protest against Middle Eastern individuals beating on local lifesavers [at Cronulla Beach]. A crowd, flag waving and chanting-- fuelled by almost total alcohol consumption--began to lose its inhibitions and an ethnic couple were set upon. Police were pelted as they assisted ambulance officers attending."

Australian Prime Minister John Howard has condemned the riots saying: "Attacking people on the basis of their race, their appearance, their ethnicity, is totally unacceptable and should be repudiated by all Australians irrespective of their own background and their politics….I'm not going to put a general tag (of) racism on the Australian community."

However, Nancy Karuri writing to the BBC from Princeton, New Jersey, offered her own input on race relations in Australia:

"As an undergraduate student from East Africa I was constantly exposed to racism in Sydney. This usually came in the form of insults. However, during my last year in Sydney (1999), I experienced a physical attack. While I was standing alone at a bus stop, a car filled with young white men sped past and threw eggs at me while shouting insults. I was the only one at the bus stop. My feelings are that it is not a small minority but a sizeable number of Australians are racist."

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